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CALs for Small Business Server 2003

Posted on 2004-10-08
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2008-01-16
!! Trying to sort this out for implementation this weekend if possible !!

We recently purchased Windows Small Business Server 2003 to replace our two current Win2k servers. Because I've moved some network functionality to Linux servers in the past couple of months, I only want/need one windows server and it's main function will be file and print sharing with appropriate security. I will not be running Fax Services, Exchange, or any of the other added features that come with SBS 2003.

We bought a bunch of Server 2003 CALs at the same time that we ordered SBS 2003. The company through which we ordered the software asked their distributor whether the Server 2003 CALs were the right CALs for SBS 2003 and were told yes, but it seems that is not the case. When I go to add CALs to SBS 2003, it asks for a 25 digit product key and there is no key provided with our Server 2003 CALs.

So then I went to the Internet to try to get more information about SBS client access licensing. Here's what I found on Microsoft's site: (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/howtobuy/CALs.mspx)

Client Access Licensing Requirements
Client access licensing requirements have changed for Windows Small Business Server 2003. In previous versions of Small Business Server, CALs were activated when a workstation used particular server services, such as print, remote access, and authenticated access. (Authenticated access is defined as an exchange of user or program credentials between the server software and a user or device.)

With Windows Small Business Server 2003, use of server services does not activate CALs. Instead use of CALs is based on access to and/or use of the server software.

A general exception to Windows Small Business Server 2003 CAL requirements is that CALs are not required when the server software is accessed through the Internet by an unauthenticated user. An example of this exception is unidentified users browsing your public Web site. Windows Small Business Server 2003 CALs are not required for those users.

Now, I'm thoroughly confused by Microsoft's distinction between "server services" and "server software". If I am only using the server as basically a file server for the use of both staff and students at our training facility, am I using server software? We have about 60 student workstations, 7 staff workstations, several local printers on staff machines and one shared printer that is shared through one of the staff workstations. Our email, web services, firewall, and DHCP are handled by the two Linux servers (one running IPCop, one running Trustix with additional services). The students access the servers for their personal data folders and for audio and data files that are part of their courses. The software they use is all installed on their local workstations (Office, Real Player, etc). The staff use the servers for file storage as well, but again all the software is installed locally.

Can some please help me to understand:

1. whether I need more CALs for my network configuration
2. how the CALs are identified to distinguish them from Server 2003 CALs, which I can't seem to use (although maybe I'm missing something)

I think this is everything I need to know in order to move forward. I would appreciate any help I can get as I was planning to put the new server in place this weekend. Our old servers were never properly built (it was before my time), have lots of errors, and are also starting to be cranky on the hardware front. I thought I had everything ready to go, but this licensing issue is a really big hiccup in my plans...

Worst case, I build a new 2000 server until I come up with a better plan, but I really don't want to do that.


Question by:ykchick
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Assisted Solution

Sembee earned 600 total points
ID: 12264241
If you aren't going to use SQL and Exchange why did you purchase SBS? You will not be using most of the functionlity that SBS provides.

The reason you didn't get any codes with Windows 2003 Server CALS is because they are bits of paper only. They don't play any role in the operation of the network other than prove you own them.

SBS CALS are different - there are additional licensing tools in SBS to enforce the restrictions - SBS can only go up to 75 users for example and you are pushing the limits of that already.

I would fire the reseller - they have given you two lots of duff advice.
1. SBS is not suitable for your requirements - a reseller should have realised that and sold you a plain Windows 2003 Server license.
2. Windows 2003 CALS are NOT CALS for SBS.
Depending on what you have in relation to this purchase I would tell you to send it back as it is unsuitable.

Next, I would install Windows 2003 Server. If you need to do it this weekend, get the evaluation version from Microsoft's web site. This can be upgraded to a real version later once you have the media without any data loss.
The CALS you have purchased just need to be put somewhere safe. You don't need to enter them anywhere, just have them to hand to prove you own them.

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Accepted Solution

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 900 total points
ID: 12264711
I agree with Simon about firing the reseller.  However, he isn't quite right about the CALS.  They would be required to create user accounts in ACTIVE DIRECTORY on the Windows 2003 server.  However...

Assuming that you explained the situation as you did here, you should return everything right away.  If you purchased these items with a credit card, you should have a fair shot at disputing the charges because of the incompatibility of the CAL's to the SBS.  What you were sold is inoperable.

I'm a HUGE fan of Small Business Server, but there are many out there that still don't understand what it's all about.  You would never use one when you already have over 50 client connections.  Are you planning on using the Windows 2003 server to provide administration for the workstations?  (You didn't mention what operating system they have).  If so, then you should probably stick with it... which means that you will be using ACTIVE DIRECTORY which is exactly what you need CAL's for (each person requires a separate user account).  The Windows server would also provide Software Update Services (Windows Update) to the workstations, and it could provide a networked anti-virus solution...

However, if you're using Trustix to manage user accounts/permissions you probably don't even need a Windows server.  

My suggestion is that you just get a network attached storage device.  There's a fairly good White Paper available from Sun here:  http://www.sun.com/storage/white-papers/nas.html.  I'm not necessarily suggesting a Sun server, there are plenty out there, but this is a good overview of the situation.

Alternatively, you can use a Samba server for these purposes:  http://compnetworking.about.com/library/weekly/aa062499.htm

Good Luck!


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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 12264719
Oops... my last line got cut off...

It should be noted that SAMBA has some security flaws which are briefly described in the above article.
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Author Comment

ID: 12265254
Okay, where to start... Thanks for your prompt replies and sorry for not following up sooner. I got drafted to help with a fundraiser for 4.5 hours this evening and now I'm back to working on this. What a way to spend the Friday night on a long weekend. Gotta love IT work, huh?

First, thanks for all the information, that helps a lot. And you're right, I didn't know about the 75 CAL limit, but I know that my reseller didn't either. He's a good friend of mine and his company isn't a true computer retailer, although they frequently buy hardware and software as part of full-systems solutions that they offer to clients. I'm inclined to think that there's just a breakdown of knowledge/communication along the chain... my friend knows my needs, but wouldn't know as much as some resellers about the different versions of server and the licensing systems. I'll be sure to fill him in so he knows when he's looking into solutions for their clients. When he asked his distributor/wholesaler about CALs, that's when the distributor probably should have asked a few questions about how it would be used. And my friend's distributor should definitely have known that the CALs were not the right ones for SBS, which we ordered at the same time. As for returning things, my friend puts a high value on customer service and I know we'll be able to work something out.

As for the heart of the problem and what I can do about it this weekend...

The reason I bought SBS is because it was about half the price of a full version of server through the particular distributor my friend and I were using. Why, I dunno, but it was. I work in an environment where many IT expenses are neither fully understood nor fully supported, so I always have to find the most economical solution to my IT needs, even if it's not what I consider the best solution overall. Not knowing the limit of the 75 CALs, SBS just seemed like a good deal at half the price of Server 2003. I've never worked with NAS or Samba, so I was just looking at solutions that I already have the skills to implement, but I'm willing to learn new things if needed.

If I want to get Server 2003, I'll have to call my manager to try to approve the additional cost. I could also build a new machine with Server 2000, then take the old servers offline, but it seems like time for an upgrade. However, that would involve no additional purchases (just my overtime) so it would be an easy sell to my boss. It's useful to know that Server 2003 can be upgraded without a reinstall in case I do manage to get it approved.

To answer the questions about our network, we currently have a hybrid network that is roughly half WinXP workstations, half win2k, and a small handful of win98 thrown in the mix. The students all log in locally on their workstations because they need local administrator rights, but they have restricted access to data on the servers. The students use generic logins, not personalized ones, so there are only two active directory accounts (student and student1) for all the students, plus the computer accounts in AD of course. The staff have unique AD accounts that they use to log on to the network through their local machines, which are also a mix of operating systems (so we can test course material as needed). In total, there are probably about 10-15 unique user accounts in AD, but (obviously) way more computer accounts.

The student workstations are locked down with DeepFreeze, so they're reset every time they're turned off. That means stuff like distributed software updates aren't a lot of good because I still have to manually thaw the workstations before any software and/or updates can be distributed through the server. We already have Symantec AntiVirus Corporate Edition running on the win2k servers.

To further complicate things, I am moving on to a new job in the new year, so I'm trying to leave systems in place that are simple and mainstream so it won't be too hard for them to find someone to replace me. I plan to leave the two Linux boxes in place because there shouldn't be many changes needed for the firewall, email and web and it would be fairly easy to train someone to manage that part of things. However, the frequency of changes needed for the course resources (audio, data files etc) is much higher so it should be manageable by less technical staff - although still with controlled access, of course.

Both suggestions of using NAS or Samba have potential. My preferred solution would be Server 2003 for the sake of future staffing. The NAS sounds like a decent prospect although I couldn't find an up-to-date article about how security is managed... but if they had options in 2002, I'd like to hope it's only improved since then. The next question would be price - whether it is a more cost-effective (i.e. cheaper) solution than any version of Windows Server. Samba also sounds like it would work, and without much expense, but it would be harder (I think) for the school to find someone who is familiar with Linux OS and apps. Unless they outsource their IT to the company where I'm going to work, which would be the smart thing for them to do but that doesn't mean it will happen. And finally, I can do a clean install of Server 2000, for which we already have the CALs, the OS, etc but it's getting "old" as far as support from Microsoft goes. I'd like to implement a solution that should work for 3+ years, not 6-12 months before support gets cut off or something.

Thanks again for your help... I'll keep watching this thread through the weekend to see what else comes up, then probably close it early next week after I've picked a solution and gone with it.

Thanks again,


PS: How are people supposed to find out key things like the 75-CAL limit and other features of SBS? I've read a bunch on the MS website about it and I'm sure my friend has looked it up too, and it wasn't until I started really digging that I found a reference to the 75 limit at the bottom of this link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/techinfo/overview/generalfaq.mspx
. I couldn't even find a reference on the pricing and licensing page http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/sbs/howtobuy/pricing.mspx.

Also, I'm still not clear on the difference(s) between "server services" and "server software" and what that was all about on the link in my original posting.
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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 12267543

I've asked E-E to create a separate category for SBS because of the unique nature of the product... so many people get confused about it... especially if they are familiar with MS Enterprise Servers (like Server 2003).  

The reason for the lower price is that its a server designed for a particular niche... small business.  Not only does it have a 75 CAL limit, but it also must primary domain controller and does not support trusts.  It's not designed at all to be integrated into your type of situation.  Especially because you aren't using the rest of the features included in SBS (Exchange, Fax, SharePoint, etc.)

As for the CAL limits being hard to find, it would be nice if they headlined the main SBS page (www.microsoft.com/sbs) with something like, "for up to 75 users".  But the page is really about SMALL BUSINESS... and there are many references to that niche size in the various links on the page.

I would definitely suggest that you reinstall the Win2K server if you have the CALS.  Microsoft is not planning on discontinuing support for Win2K for anytime in the near future that I know of... it's still a very strong system and is installed on millions of networks.  It will be around for a number of years to come.  They tried to end support for Windows 98 only to have to extend it.

So if anything, you may want to buy a new machine to install it on... that will help considerably.  HP has servers starting at $399.00 (but don't get those... they're really designed for small networks under 10 users... but you could still get something decent for under $1,000.00).

Good luck!

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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 12269787
If you're looking for lots of good articles on the subject... http://storage.ittoolbox.com/nav/t.asp?t=432&p=432&h1=432

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Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 12708518
can we get closure?

Author Comment

ID: 12713178
Absolutely you can get closure and sorry for leaving this open so long! I've had it on my reminders list, but unfortunately there's a bunch of things on my reminders list because it's been a crazy fall.

In the end, we bought the full Windows 2003 Server, which I installed in my "spare time" over the last while and finally put it place in our network last Sunday. My friend took back the SBS, even though he doesn't think he'll be able to return it to his distributor - even though the distributor admitted that they didn't know about the CAL incompatibility etc. I realize returning opened software is an issue, but I'm glad my friend and his company value customer service more than his distributor apparently does. I hope he can find somewhere to use it so he doesn't lose out.

Thanks for all your help and also your patience and once again, my apologies for the delay.

LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 12713413
Jan, glad to hear that it turned out well for you.  Tell your friend that if he can't find a home for the software, I may be able help.  I install a couple SBS's a month, and some of them are for Non-Profits, which I generally give software to... (even if I have to pay for it).  Just contact me directly if necessary.

Best of luck!

Jeff @

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